I have the privilege of working in one of the iconic buildings in London.
The Houses of Parliament, along with perhaps St Paul’s Cathedral, are the images most associated with the capital. We set our time by Big Ben, and parliament’s image even adorns sauce bottles. Parliament is iconic, and the symbol of what it stands for also makes it a key target for terrorism. Increased security checks and the eerie quiet on public transport served as a reminder of the horrors of what happened in Paris.
Events such as the terror attacks in Paris change things utterly, at least for a time. In the aftermath important issues become critical. So the government’s plans for new investigatory powers to tackle extremism and criminality seem more urgent. The focus on taking the fight to ISIS, the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, makes extending the bombing to Syria the next big question.
But it also challenges the wisdom of plans to cut police budgets and numbers further. Neighbourhood policing is not just important to deter and catch criminals, and terrorists are criminals, but it helps to reassure local people and local communities.
The right response to terrorists who seek to disrupt our way of life is ‘business as usual’, and balancing hard-fought freedoms with security is part of that way of life.
So, too, is having a local police service with the resources it needs to do its job.